Thursday, June 20, 2013

"Life is Flowing like a River"

Sa-was-dee-ka (“Hello” in Thai), my name is Voonyin Leow, and I am from Malaysia. I am going into my third year as a graduate student in Music Therapy at the University of Kansas. I am so excited by this opportunity to study aboard in Thailand. This is my first time exploring Thailand. The Thai culture is quite similar to Malaysia, with the only main difference being the language. A lot of people say “when tourists are looking for a beautiful place to travel, Thailand is one of the sites that you have to bear in mind.” It is true; Thailand is a beautiful country in South East Asia. It also known as ‘The Golden Land’ and ‘Land of Smiles’. There are many wonderful aspects of Thailand, including the view of beautiful landscapes, delicious cuisine, and a rich culture and beautiful language.

What I admire most about the Thai people is their unique life style. Here is one of the quotes that I think of when regarding Thai people:

Life is flowing like a River with Unexpected Turns. May be good, may be bad. Learn to enjoy each turn, because these turns will never RETURN!

Thai people always have a smile on their face no matter how hard their life is. In every place, I always hear Thai people saying Sa-bai, Sa-bai (do not worry and be happy). This mantra influences the Thai people’s daily lives, making them flexible and at ease with the stressors of life.

In regards to “life is a flowing like a river”, Thailand has 46 rivers in the country. Most of the rivers support the irrigation for Thailand's agricultural economy. The architecture and the way of life along the river and canals continue to remain true to Thailand’s beginnings. Floating markets are an enduring symbol of what life was like in days gone by to the Thai people (even though many have been replaced by supermarkets and shopping malls in the more “metropolitan” areas of Thailand).

The floating market Dumnoen Saduak in Ratchaburi is one of the famous floating markets and is also known as the largest floating market in Thailand. Dumnoen Saduak Floating Market was a colorful scene that I will never forget. The farmers and merchants arrive early in their boats laden with tropical fruits, flowers, fresh produce, and souvenirs to sell by boat or beside the river. They also cook noodle soup or fried noodles on the boat. It is one of the rare places where you can find a fresh-made lunch for about $0.75 or less, cooked in minutes. The image of food boats, merchants selling handicrafts, and colorful umbrellas blocking the bright sun provides an exuberant and vividly colorful scene that I have never experienced before.

While there are many similarities between Thailand and Malaysia, there are many parts of this trip that have opened my eyes and broadened my perspective in ways unimagined. In particular, the colorful and busy floating market will forever be an image that is attached to my memory of Thailand. Not only are the rivers important for irrigation and travel, they are the center of some of the most lucrative shopping areas in Thailand. The river of life has brought me to Thailand this summer to study music therapy, and it is truly an experience I will never forget. 

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